Sunday, September 09, 2007

Tiff, Deuxieme

Last night consisted of Erik Nietzsche The Early Years and American Venus. Today has been Breakfast With Scot and Vexille.

All solid films. Erik Nietzsche is the story of Lars Von Trier (under his alias of Erik Nietzsche) and his days in the Danish Film School. It's a biting bit of sarcasm about the state of the Danish film industry some 30 years ago. How Erik's attempts to be different and question traditional film making techniques and rules is met with hostility and threats. The fact that the only reason he's in the school is due to the dean's libido speaks to his situation. It's funny and insightful, and the final shot left me smiling.

American Venus is a decent film bolstered by a fantastic performance from Rebecca De Mornay as Celia. Jane McGregor as Jenna also does quite well as Celia's put-upon daughter. The basic plot is that Jenna is a US figure skater who botches a performance at Nationals and has finally had enough of her overbearing mother. She runs away to Vancouver to escape and mom eventually follows. Celia is an American caricature - a gun-loving sociopath living in a pristine white and orderly world. Heading to the range and firing off a few magazines is her means of stress-relief. Of course, upon trying to cross the border, her favourite handgun is taken away by customs and this leads to her gradual and remarkable breakdown as she tries to figure out Canada. The movie suffers from a case of "WHY?" Where I was regularly asking why Celia would do the things she did... if she wants her guns so badly, why not go back home? Why would she attempt to break numerous laws and put herself in danger in search of a weapon? However, these questions get answered as we realize how unstable she really is. It has moments of dark comedy, and some genuine tension. All of it is anchored by its two very strong leads.

Breakfast With Scot is one of those heart-warming films that just BARELY keeps from stepping over the "oh geeze" line. Starring Tom Cavanagh, Ben Shenkman and Noah Bernett, it's the story of Eric McNally (Cavanagh), a former Toronto Maple Leaf who has moved on to broadcasting after an injury, Sam (Shenkman), Eric's partner in their semi-closeted relationship, and Scot (Bernett) an 11 year-old boy who ends up as their temporary ward due to an irresponsible brother. Eric was a tough guy in the NHL, and now works in Sports Broadcasting - both areas where being gay might not work in your favour. He's been with Sam for 5 years, and while his friends and family all know, he's kept his orientation a secret from co-workers and the general public. In comes Scot, Sam's brother's dead ex-girlfriend's son. Sam's brother is in Brazil though, so Sam and Eric get Scot until he can be picked up.

Scot, however, has been raised solely by his drug-addict mother, and is pretty solidly gay, with absolutely no male-oriented interests or mannerisms. He shows up with a charm bracelet, silk scarf, hands smelling of gardenia hand lotion and with a bag full of cosmetics and jewellery. What follows is largely Eric's attempts to butch-up the kid so he doesn't have to suffer the slings and arrows that are inevitably thrown at school. Over the following months, we see the effect this attempt has on everyone involved - Eric, Sam, Scot, the bully down the street, friends, and family. It never quite goes where you expect it to until the end, when it gets kinda sappy and tear-jerky. That said, the movie is solid, and explore some touchy themes with subtlety and humour.

Finally was the Midnight Madness showing of Vexille. Within the first 30 seconds I knew I'd be picking this one up for my DVD collection. An animated masterpiece from Japan set some 70 years in the future. Japan has shut itself off from the rest of the world due to U.N. rules about robotics that Japan's biggest corporation didn't agree with. An attack leads the US to send in a special forces team to the island nation to see what's happening. What they find shocks them. I'll be honest, the big twist wasn't that shocking for me, but the movie was gorgeous. Fantastic action sequences, a jaw-dropping visual style, and a pretty decent story to boot. It reminded me I needed to pick up a copy of Renaissance from last year's fest as well. This was a fantastic way to end the weekend's films.

Monday night is Honeydripper from John Sayles, which I have little doubt will be excellent.

1 comment:

lj said...

awesome, can't wait to hear review. i LOVE john sayles -- lone star is def in my top ten all time movies.